Concerns about digital equity are on the rise among IT leaders in K–12 education. Nearly every respondent in a recent survey said he or she had heightened worries about students' home access to devices and the internet, to support remote learning.
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Students in rural areas, in areas just outside of suburbs and in areas with high population density (subsidized apartments, mobile home parks) have less access to high-speed internet than their counterparts in cities and suburbs. There’s also an estimates 1.47 million homeless K–12 students in the United States, who also have significant issues with access.
According to a new report, there are steps schools and districts can take to help improve their students’ home WiFi performance — some at a cost, some using IT staff expertise and legwork.
Students have been moving around quite a bit during remote learning — sometimes studying at friends houses, sometimes studying from multiple states.
Broadband access and speed aren’t the only technological concerns for students engaged in remote and hybrid learning. The quality of the student device itself also plays a key role, according to a new study.
In a transaction valued at up to $500 million, ed tech company Kahoot! is acquiring Clever, which provides one of the most ubiquitous services in education IT.
The current FCC definition of home broadband — 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds — is inadequate for at-home learning, according to researchers who conducted a first-of-its-kind study of district data for students engaged in remote learning.
Starting this summer, Clever will be providing automated rostering for Google Classroom. Clever provides a single sign-in portal, roster syncing and other services used by 65% of K–12 schools in the United States.
As education institutions aim to become more flexible to meet modern demands, teachers will continue operating under hybrid learning models — making the need for disruption-free virtual lessons and network access all the more critical. To best accommodate these needs, investing in a flexible IT infrastructure that can support remote-learning, especially as our country undergoes one of the most pivotal time periods in history, will be an important factor.
District digital initiatives have included a 1-to-1 device program, to provide students with iPads, Windows devices and Chromebooks, and a virtual "Backpack of Success Skills" platform for students, to demonstrate learning and collect artifacts such as pictures and video with Google tools. Assessments are done online. And the schools 3,000-plus IP-connected cameras with gunshot recognition capabilities and electronic access control.
- By Dian Schaffhauser